Cities of the Frontier - now for BfW 1.11

Discussion and development of scenarios and campaigns for the game.

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Gwynnedrion
Posts: 136
Joined: February 26th, 2010, 8:42 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by Gwynnedrion » March 1st, 2012, 2:17 pm

Desertos wrote:you should make more buildings like mines,watchtower and defence towers
Mines would be nice, but towers seem unlikely?

I noticed you cant "upgrade" the keep to stone. Or be able to fill water with land. Perhaps upgrade villages to towns(university)?
”Rise, adept, and tell me about the enemy.”

You are a Horseman: you charge ahead without thinking of the consequences.(80%)

Desertos
Posts: 3
Joined: February 23rd, 2012, 6:12 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by Desertos » March 1st, 2012, 10:06 pm

Gwynnedrion wrote: Mines would be nice, but towers seem unlikely?
for me it would be nice to have some watchtowers in spring and autumm
because i want know what enemy appears and where they appear

some trap buildings could be nice too

hebetude
Posts: 9
Joined: March 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by hebetude » March 1st, 2012, 11:01 pm

Have finished this three times now, enjoyed it quite a bit, and would like to offer some thoughts. Long post incoming.

After a number of false starts and failures, I finished 0.1-easy. Then played through 0.2-normal twice, finding it easier than 0.1-easy. Did it almost without reloading on the third go (reloaded once to save a loyal unit from poor planning, and once when an unseen water serpent killed the leader). Regret that I haven't made time for 0.3 yet.

Thoughts on existing features
In 0.1-0.2, I found the blacksmith and bowyer 100% useless; it was enough to recruit lots of peasants and let them advance or die (on normal, anyway). I like using cavalrymen, so the stables was nice, and snow changes will make it nicer. If the blacksmith is required for spearmen, it has probably become necessary. For the bowyer, I'll have to find out.

Diverting water is very powerful, especially with spring floods. I don't feel that it needed to be made easier. Stone fortifications look nice but have seldom mattered. Wood may even be preferable, since enemies will get no protection.

In 0.1, I had a couple of worker projects occurring in winter. They produced green grass, not snow. Have not checked on this since.

Level 3 units have too much upkeep, so I tend to retire them as soon as they can reach the keep. This seems like a problem.

The current campaign objective can be met comfortably with about 10-15 villages. This seems not a big settlement. On the third playthrough, I got to 31 villages before being forced over 1000g, and the fighting had become very easy. Perhaps there should be an additional campaign goal of ~30 villages, and difficulty scales with village count and/or time. Bandit parties could become larger and rarer, orc parties larger and more frequent.

Ideas about buildings
I'd like to suggest an alternate mechanic for buildings like the blacksmith that is more elaborate than the 0.3 behavior: Give each building "action points" every turn (say, 1 or 2) that are needed to recruit or promote relevant units. This gives a benefit for having more copies of the same building, but it complicates leveling up. It would become really nice to have a way to defer leveling up, in order to save points for later in the turn or for AI turns.

I propose a "veteran unit" mechanism kind of like this: For each non-terminal unit that uses action points, there is a veteran version that has the same combat abilities as the original unit, a higher unit level, and a high/infinite XP requirement. The veteran unit can advance to a regular leveled-up unit once there are action points available (I tried to make this the right decision always -- no holding onto low-upkeep guys with short XP bars). Maybe this is done through the right-click menu, and maybe it requires visiting a building. Maybe a normal unit can be promoted directly, without the veteran step, when there are action points available. Maybe this is a ton of work to implement. Maybe it would be annoying to play. I don't know.

Here is another idea, for high-status/pampered units (was thinking specifically of mages and extra sergeants): Each of these units requires its own house/building (Is 4 hexes too big?). Once the house is built, the leader can pay to "send for" the unit (imagine sending a messenger south), who will appear half a season later, skipping winter. If the unit dies, send for another, and wait again.

Comments on units
On the subject of sergeants, it seems a little odd to have (potentially) a Grand Marshal overseeing a frontier town. I feel it would be thematically appropriate to limit the leader to General rank, and if additional officers are allowed, to limit them to lower rank than the leader.

Fencers and heavy infantry feel a little out of place in a frontier setting, certainly moreso than regular infantry. Maybe they can be recruited once the city is large enough.


I hope some of this is useful. I look forward to seeing what the campaign becomes. It's been pretty fun so far.

esci
Posts: 42
Joined: September 4th, 2006, 12:07 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by esci » March 4th, 2012, 10:57 pm

My general philosophy in developing this campaign has been to try to limit the number of non-standard terrains and buildings. I think of CotF as an extension of standard Wesnoth rules rather than a wholesale revision. So at least at the moment I'm not planning to add mines, watchtowers, trap buildings or similar. I also think that these types of buildings mess with what I consider some of the core strategic decisions of the campaign (noted below).

I see two of the core strategic decisions in CotF being the following:
1. Expansion vs. defense
In general, the more farms you have, the longer your defensive perimeter gets, and the more terrain alteration and more units you need to defend it. This is why I enforce farm terrain around each village -- to increase the perimeter. At the moment this only really plays out in the winter due to being able to easily shift defenders from place to place. As I improve the balance, I may implement something like hebetude's idea of tying the number of outlaws to the number of villages.

2. Standing army size
In CotF, you always want to have *just* enough units to repel your attackers. Too many units causes you to lose money in upkeep, too few and you lose your investment in dead units and burned buildings. This is not the case in most campaign scenarios -- typically you are better off recruiting an overwhelming force and finishing the scenario quickly to get the bonus.

A frontier town is not going to keep a large, experienced army around -- it's going to have a few soldiers in the watchtowers, and call up the town militia when threatened. So I consider not usually using level 3 units to be a feature, not a bug. I often level Spearmen up in Javelineers for this reason.

@hebetude
I agree that Grand Marshals and (in the future) heavy infantry seem out of place in a frontier town, but then so do Royal Guards. Since CotF is much more of a strategy-driven campaign than a story-driven one, I lean towards a wider variety of available units being more important for campaign fun than limiting to strictly frontier-appropriate unit lines.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

hebetude
Posts: 9
Joined: March 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by hebetude » March 16th, 2012, 5:17 am

Just played CotF 0.3, normal, Wesnoth 1.10.0.

Had a very poor start -- placed the keep, started building northeast, and discovered that most of the open space was to the southwest. Continued building northeast in order to have the keep on one border, out of habit. Maybe not the best idea. After about 6 turns, the loyal cavalryman was killed by wolves while exploring. Workers spent a lot of time clearing land, more than one died fighting bandits, and I had just 9 villages by first winter. Played the second spring recklessly and ran out of troops by summer; re-played it carefully, and everything was fine. Because of the very slow start, the campaign ran to autumn #3.

I placed some roads for wintertime, and they mattered. Cavalrymen were very very good too, as expected. Did not build a bowyer until very late in the campaign, and it was gratuitous.

The 300g orc bounties were nice, probably too high. I used most of the gold to run a deficit in winter. Was able to get about 3/6 bounties before bandit groups got the leader kill.

There were a couple of problems with bridge graphics (image). On the right, the workers standing in water is not able to build a NW-SE bridge (I wanted one there for movement in winter). On the left, one of the bridges points N-S but it should point NE-SW.
Attachments
bridges.jpg

esci
Posts: 42
Joined: September 4th, 2006, 12:07 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by esci » March 21st, 2012, 1:07 am

Thanks for the report, hebetude. I've fixed the bug about not being able to build a bridge in certain cases in my development version. I hope to release the next version in a few days. I've known about the non-oriented bridge graphics (they just always go north-south, I think) for a while, but it's low on my priority list to fix since it's just a graphical issue.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

Gwynnedrion
Posts: 136
Joined: February 26th, 2010, 8:42 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by Gwynnedrion » March 23rd, 2012, 8:46 pm

Sounds great to see the next version come up. Is it just bugfixes or any new content? I'm rather addicted to this campaign but it dulls out a bit. Not that it's boring, but some new content (or another scenario) would be nice.
”Rise, adept, and tell me about the enemy.”

You are a Horseman: you charge ahead without thinking of the consequences.(80%)

tribes45
Posts: 123
Joined: June 24th, 2010, 12:40 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by tribes45 » March 25th, 2012, 3:34 am

esci wrote:See the exotic Northlands! Enjoy the freedom of a pioneer as you settle wild new lands! Raise the flag of Wesnoth high above your castle towers!

Cities of the Frontier is a new campaign with some added strategic elements. Most importantly, you can recruit Peasant Workers who can change terrain hexes -- building new villages, encampments, and so on. Your goal is to defend your new town from wild animals, outlaws, orcs, and others as you build it up. As you do so, you will have to make decisions about how best to spend your gold: recruiting units, building up defensive structures, or creating new villages to earn more income. The campaign plays somewhat like a single long scenario with some changes as the seasons progress. You win when you build up your gold reserves above the set victory threshold.

Many elements of this campaign are randomly-generated in order to (hopefully) increase re-playability. This will eventually include the map itself. So if you are someone who thinks the random number generator is out to get you, this may not be the campaign for you.

This campaign shares a few characteristics with other add-ons such as GambCiv, A New Land, and others, with a few key differences:
-CotF is strictly a single-player campaign
-CotF is less focused on decisions about resource collection (there is only gold) and more on decisions about spending resources

Current status (this will be edited as I update the campaign):
Version 0.3.0 is up on the campaign server.
Compatible with the Wesnoth 1.10 series.
The basic gameplay is in place, and the campaign is completely playable and winnable, there's just not as much variety and polish as future versions will have. There is also a tutorial for first-time players.

I would love to hear feedback from anyone who tries this campaign.
-Did you see major balance problems? (until all game mechanics are settled I won't focus too much on balance)
-Did you experience any bugs?
-Most importantly, is there something you think would make this campaign more fun?

I love the idea of the campaign. I played it until summer, Then it was just too hard for me too defend myself.
The orcs burnt down my villages, decreasing my income, and they just wouldn't stop recruiting.
There was no way I could win, even when I played on easy.

But great campaign.
"In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons." -Herodotus
"Two things are infinite, the universe and Human stupidity. Although, I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein

esci
Posts: 42
Joined: September 4th, 2006, 12:07 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by esci » March 26th, 2012, 1:57 am

I've uploaded version 0.4.0 of CotF to the 1.10 campaign server. To answer Gwynnedrion's question, there's not a ton of new material in this release. I spent some time changing the core WML, and introduced some bugs while doing so that took some playthroughs to find and fix. The next release *should* be focused almost entirely on new gameplay aspects.

Changes:
-Added the ability to recruit Heavy Infantrymen and Mages by building the Armorer and Library, respectively.
-If you cut many forest hexes, there is now the possibiilty that you may be attacked by elves, who will appear at the western map border. The likelihood and size of the elf band increases with the number of forest hexes removed.
-Added a cute little fire graphic for when outlaws or orcs burn your buildings to the ground.
-[internal] Switched 2x2 buildings to be overlays and to use the multi-hex tiling systems. This should make it easier for me to upgrade the art in the future, and to make the terrains look a bit less "hex-y".
-[fixed] bridges can now be built on water hexes next to castles and encampments
-You now lose if an enemy capable of burning your buildings (currently outlaws or orcs) occupy your keep. The tutorial previously claimed this, but I hadn't implemented it yet.
-Adjusted the outlaw AI parameters in hopes of having them not target orc leaders so much, although I'm not sure it helped.
-Orc income is now dependent on the number of villages you have

Known bugs:
-Not really a bug, but sometimes the outlaws will gang up on the orc leaders, so no enemies attack you for long periods of time, particularly in the summer.

I was hoping that Heavy Infantry would be a viable (although not equivalent) alternative to Spearmen as your main infantry unit, but I had forgotten how fragile (and expensive) they are. They should still be an interesting option when I add undead enemies in the next release. I don't recommend playing with primarily HI unless you are looking for a challenge. I may yet decide to allow Fencer recruiting as well.

@tribes45: Thanks for the feedback! I do almost all of my play-testing on normal at this point, so easy might well be too difficult, particularly if luck is against you. Once I finish all of the gameplay code, I will be revising the tutorial to hopefully be more helpful. In terms of defense against orcs, it's very important that you
a) Have chosen a defensible area for your town (you want to encourage them to attack through a narrow valley or through a stream and
b) Start building encampments on your borders by the end of the first scenario.
The orcs will tend to come from the north or east sides of your town.

Edit: noted orc income dependence on villages
Last edited by esci on March 27th, 2012, 11:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

tribes45
Posts: 123
Joined: June 24th, 2010, 12:40 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by tribes45 » March 26th, 2012, 4:00 am

Thanks, for the tips, I shall try again. First on easy, then on normal. :)

EDIT:
Beat campaign on easy, is the simple difference a bowman and amount of turns between attacks?
"In peace, sons bury their fathers. In war, fathers bury their sons." -Herodotus
"Two things are infinite, the universe and Human stupidity. Although, I'm not sure about the universe. -Albert Einstein

hebetude
Posts: 9
Joined: March 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by hebetude » April 8th, 2012, 3:57 am

Some things seem wrong with the orcs. Campaign version 0.4.0, Wesnoth 1.10.0. I decided to try Hard this time.

Judging from replays, the orcs' gold is set to 0 at the start of each season. But some leaders arrive near the end of a season; so they have unspent gold when the season changes, and it disappears. Then an outlaw group spawns near the keep, and they die. This happened at the end of summer 1 and the end of spring 2, leaving very little to fight. I managed to kill one leader out of 4 before outlaws got there.

During summer 1, there were two orc leaders, one early and one late. The early one had 278 gold to my 7 villages, while the late one had 164 vs. 9. Is there a lot of randomness here?

The second orc leader to arrive from the north built a new keep, farther south than the previous northern keep. Is this intended? The second orc leader to arrive from the east did not build a new keep; it stood in the old keep and recruited a trickle because it had no gold.

I quit playing during summer 2. The map had turned very peaceful, and it felt like things were not working as intended. The campaign was tough to that point. I had a twisty little city with not a lot of farms, and too many entrances during the spring flood. White mages were a great help, FWIW.

esci
Posts: 42
Joined: September 4th, 2006, 12:07 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by esci » April 10th, 2012, 11:47 pm

Hebetude -- Thanks for the report! You've run into one bug, and one poor design decision. I didn't realize the orc gold was being reset at the beginning of seasons, although now that you point it out it seems obvious.

The new keep building is sort of intended. New orc leaders look for a nearby existing keep, and if they don't find one they build a new one. I did this with the idea that there might be some benefits to you dismantling an orc castle, but never figured out how to implement that from a gameplay perspective.

There's actually no luck involved in how much gold the orcs get (currently it increases as the seasons go on). What I believe is happening is simply that the orcs use up all their gold recruiting units, then run up a big debt on upkeep. So when they get are given a new block of gold what you see is new_gold - debt. The debt is bigger on hard, as the orcs initially have more units. I made the orc income dependent on the # of villages, so your orcs had the combination of a large debt and not much income to pull them out of it. I think my solution, since the orcs cannot own villages, is just to make all orc units loyal and adjust gold amounts as appropriate.

I don't actually have version 0.4.0 anymore (not using any sort of version control system), so I can't upload an immediate fix, but I will correct these for the next version. Hopefully that will be coming in a week or so.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

hebetude
Posts: 9
Joined: March 1st, 2012, 8:25 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by hebetude » April 13th, 2012, 4:25 am

esci wrote:What I believe is happening is simply that the orcs use up all their gold recruiting units, then run up a big debt on upkeep. So when they get are given a new block of gold what you see is new_gold - debt.
I watched replays again, and it appears to be something else. What happened was that the orc side collects income starting on turn 1, whether there is an orc leader or not. Then, when a leader appears at mid-season, it gets both immediate recruitment money and the income collected during previous turns. The orcs do run a deficit while the raiding party is active. During summer #1 I got an orc party on turn 14 (170 immediate + 108 cumulative) and another on turn 33 (170 immediate - 6 cumulative); so in this case the deficit basically vanished.

So apparently, orc party size depends on (1) when the leader arrives and (2) when the previous leader arrived.
There's actually no luck involved in how much gold the orcs get (currently it increases as the seasons go on).
An orc leader appeared during spring #2 and got the same 170 gold bonus that summer #1's orcs got; is that intended?

As for orc income vs. city size, income was 9 gold/turn throughout summer #1 (grew from 5 to 9 villages) and probably throughout spring #2 (had 8-9 villages, but didn't check income carefully).


Making all of the orcs loyal seems drastic, but also sure to work.

MRDNRA
Posts: 212
Joined: September 11th, 2009, 5:06 pm

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by MRDNRA » April 15th, 2012, 8:03 pm

Been getting a right strange selection of maps at times, as i keep restarting! Just started one and lost my cavalryman on turn 1! Spawned right next to a great wolf, with another great wolf about 4 hexes away, and a normal wolf about 6 hexes away. I rarely see great wolves as they mostly seem to spawn far away when they do, so to spawn in range of 2 is very unusual.

Edit: Lost that one on turn 7 when I got attacked by a 3rd great wolf and a bat! Just the sheer randomness of it all makes it fun at times.

Edit 2: Okay I think the game hates me at the minute. Next spawn was in range of 1 great wolf, 2 bats, a giant rat, and 3 normal wolves.

esci
Posts: 42
Joined: September 4th, 2006, 12:07 am

Re: Cities of the Frontier (aka sim-Wesnoth)

Post by esci » April 23rd, 2012, 2:37 am

I've uploaded version 0.5.0 of Cities of the Frontier to the add-ons server. Note: this version will likely break any saved games you have. It will give errors and/or (more likely) unpredictable behavior. Upgrade only if you are planning to start from the beginning.

There are some fairly major changes for this one:
-Added randomly-selected magical items that appear at random locations on the map. At the moment, there will be from 4 to 6 items on each map. All of the items have positive effects, but a few also have negative ones. My hope is that the items encourage players to explore the map a bit more.
-Necromancers may also occasionally raid your town, looking for corpses. This may occur in the summer, but is more likely in the fall.
-Totally revamped Orc gold management. Orcs now receive an initial gold amount partially dependent on the number of villages you have. Their income increases as the seasons pass. Also, orc units have no upkeep, so they will recruit a trickle of units even after the initial wave, making it more difficult to go orc-leader hunting. Income in Wesnoth seems to be a bit odd -- sides seem to have an income of 2/turn even when they have no units -- but I think I got most of the bugs.
-Did some more fiddling with the outlaw AI that should almost always prevent them from attacking orc leaders.
-Changed the way speaking [role]s are assigned -- you should now mostly hear from the same few units, unless they are killed.
-[fixed] orc leaders *should* no longer be distracted by an attack on their way to building a castle, although this is somewhat difficult to test
Known bugs:
-Item dialogues don't all make sense if you move your leader onto the item

I didn't playtest this quite as thoroughly as for past releases because I introduced many new bugs I had to fix, so it's possible the balance is even worse than usual. I tried to err on the side of a bit too easy, though.

As always, feedback is much appreciated, particularly on what you think makes the campaign fun or not fun.


@MRDNRA: I've only been killed by animals near the beginning maybe twice in all of my playtesting, so I think mostly you got terribly unlucky. I have added moving level 2 and 3 animals away from the starting point to my list of things to do, though.
Original creator of the campaign Descent Into Darkness
Currently working on Cities of the Frontier

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